Even though gas prices are at the lowest they have been in four years (CNN Money) another spike could be just around the corner. If you are on a tight budget, you are probably looking for ways to save your hard-earned cash. Aside from the obvious choices of switching to a hybrid or electric car, you can use these tips to get more mileage for your money.
Avoid Premium Gas
Most types of cars really don’t need premium gas. Premium gas contains higher octane levels. Older cars may benefit from an occasional tank of premium gas due to the cleaning additives that ultimately may increase the engine life and improve performance. But for newer vehicles it’s not necessary to shell out extra cash since the engine is not polluted with residues yet.
Take a Load Off
Any extra weight in your car decreases your gas mileage. Make it a habit to clean your car out weekly to remove any unnecessary items that could literally weigh down your wallet.
Keep Up With Regular Maintenance
Taking good care of your car will make it run better, which in turn improves your gas mileage. Change the oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, replace worn out parts like spark plugs and other engine parts, and don’t forget to rotate your tires periodically. As an added benefit, regular maintenance can also help you avoid costly repairs.
Plan Your Fill-ups Wisely
Most gas station owners raise the gas prices on weekends, so you are better off filling up your tank Monday through Thursday. Compare gas prices at different gas stations in your area via GasBuddy.com or its mobile app so you can get the cheapest price near you. If you live in a hurricane-prone zone, like Florida for example, you should also keep an eye on the weather since gas prices always increase when a hurricane warning goes into effect.
Become a Better Driver
You can improve your car’s fuel economy by adopting a more defensive driving style since frequent braking and accelerating wastes gas. Moreover, using a GPS system can help you find the shortest and fastest route to your destination, further reducing unnecessary gas consumption. It also helps your wallet and the environment if you turn off the engine whenever you stop the car for a few minutes, such as waiting for take-out food.
Choose a Smart Payment Option
Some gas stations offer lower prices for cash payments so that they can avoid credit card processing fees. Using plastic can have its advantages, too. Some creditors offers reward points or cash back for gas purchases. Last but not least, you can knock off a couple cents per gallon with loyalty programs like Smith’s Fuel Rewards Program. Discounts are also available with coupons and gas gift cards.
Don’t Fall for the Nitrogen Trap
While filling your tires with Nitrogen may improve gas mileage slightly, it doesn’t outweigh the price you pay (about $60-$179) according to Edmunds.com. Nitrogen-filled tires do keep your tire pressures up longer than regular air does, but you could simply check your tire pressure monthly to keep it at the recommended level for your car (usually about 30-35 psi). Check your owner’s manual for the exact number.
Look for Alternative Transportation Options
One of the most obvious ways to save money on gas is by driving less. For example, you can cut your gas usage by carpooling whenever possible. Public transportation may be less convenient since it takes more time to reach your destination, but a bus ticket tends be cheaper than gas for your car. Last but not least, you could trade your gas-guzzling SUV or truck for something more fuel-efficient, like a motorcycle or a small car.Ultimately, saving money on gas takes conscious effort. These tips might not seem to make much of a difference on your budget at first. But once you start implementing them on a regular basis they will become a habit.
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